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Customers in our Retirement Living schemes attend café event to reduce isolation

Customers living in our Birmingham retirement living schemes took part in a café event to reduce feelings of loneliness.

The event called Fancy a Brew was organised by Groundwork West Midlands and took place at Chiswick House for customers living in nearby blocks to attend.

Customers were invited to have a drink, biscuit and a chat with each other.

Groundwork West Midlands Green Doctor project also attended the sessions to advise customers on how to keep warm while saving money as well as providing them with free winter warm packs which included hot water bottles, socks and blankets.

Customers attended the event and said it was good to speak to their fellow neighbours.

Linley Maynard said: “I think this event is a great idea as it’s Christmas and people may be feeling lonely, and this is a good event to reduce that.”

Customer Katie Whitehouse said: “I have enjoyed coming down and I have enjoyed the company. The people who run it are very kind and helpful and I have been able to meet people here.”

John Williams added: “It’s very nice to have an event like this and a lovely gesture. It’s very hard with covid what we are going through and events like this bring joy.”

Our Neighbourhood Officer Dexter Edmonds said: “It’s been lovely to see our customers attend the Fancy a Brew event and see them socialise with each other.

“Chiswick House was chosen as customers living there, and in the surrounding blocks, are older because the schemes are for people over 55 – and this is one of the groups who have experienced isolation during the covid 19 pandemic. It’s brilliant to see customers attend and it’s great to hear feedback that they enjoyed it.”

We worked with Groundwork West Midlands to first start the Fancy a Brew scheme two years ago after being awarded £60,000 from the National Lottery Community Fund. The aim was to reduce isolation in customers living in Birmingham.

Youth and Community Project Officer at Groundwork West Midlands Sami Shaw said: “We also chose Chiswick House as it has a lovely communal area where in the past the residents have had their own activities including bingo, knitting, jumble sales and keep fit. Unfortunately, these activities have petered out, but we are hoping that our Fancy a Brew events will act as a catalyst to re-establish these resident-led activities.

“The response to the first event was really good. The residents were all very appreciative that we put this on for them. One of the residents even went around knocking on doors letting people know what we were putting on for them because he thought it was a great idea and that as many people should get involved as possible!

“A lot of the attendees spoke to our Green Doctor and went away with some great tips on reducing their heating bills without sacrificing their comfort, so I feel like the impact of the event has gone above and beyond our primary goal of providing opportunities to socialise.

“We also helped one of the residents apply online for a NHS Covid Pass letter, as she had been worried that she wouldn’t be able to celebrate Christmas as planned without one and wasn’t sure how to go about getting one. It only took five minutes, but she really appreciated it and is looking forward to using it, so I’m really glad that I was able to help her. This is exactly why we’ve held the events.”

In total three sessions were held for our customers to take part in during the run up to Christmas.

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